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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I'm new to this group and have really enjoyed reading all the old posts and now I'm hoping you might have some advice for me!

I have a gorgeous (aren't they all?) 2 year old, neutered male, and people have always said what a beautiful natured dog he is... up until a couple of months ago. He started off chasing the odd cyclist then moved onto chasing joggers and now I don't feel that his behaviour out in public is reliable anymore. Sometimes he barks at people - not just a woof but a full-on standing-on-his-toes-I-mean-business-bark and sometimes he is quite friendly with strangers. This week he seems to be worse with men, last week it was people carrying things but I can't really see any pattern to it and I panic anytime I see a kid in case they run up and want to pat him.

I thought by 2 we would be past all this sort of thing and it's worrying me that he is starting all this now when he is fully grown. Does anyone have any ideas? Can someone please tell me they went through a difficult phase but it got better?!?

I know there can never be enough for him to do but he does get two walks a day plus a "formal" training session and plenty of activity toys while we're at work (fed from treat-balls and kongs etc). My favourite training group which was clicker-training has folded unfortunately but I'm having some private lessons with one of the trainers to work on desensitising him to anything I think he is reacting to.

Thanks for your opinions!
 

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Hi there, I can appreciate your concern and frustration, by two years you would of expected to of ironed out all the little bumps and creases but like yourself and of course many others not.!!!..I my self can not give any advice as Purdey is only 8 months and hasn t got to that stage and I haven't experienced that problem but I just wanted to say there are many kind and very knowledgable vizsla owners on this site and its only a matter of time before someone gives you the advice and peace of mind you are looking for.... keep ya chin up and all the best...COME ON ALL LONG TERM VIZSLA OWNERS your words of wisdom are needed!!!
 

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Hi Mercutio,

My V bitch (also speyed) is now 20 months. About 2-3 months ago she started woofing and barking at people passing by the house. I think that this is a maturity phase. The dog is becoming older and more confident. More protective of the pack (or family). She has not chased anyone and I would not tolerate that at all. As I use her for pointing deer I have never let her chase anything (unless it is a toy). She does have the instinct to chase but you should be able to stop your dog with a loud stern NO and then a friendly COME. You need to practice this.

Another thing she does along the lines you describe is bark at some strangers but not at others. Must just be the dogs intuition towards strangers. I think you need to let the dog interact with as many strangers as possible along your walks. Even ask people if they would like to pat your dog. Imagine if everytime you are out walking that you tell the dog to stay away from strangers or walk around them. The dog will start to think strangers are a threat and react accordingly. It becomes a pattern. There are people out there that are geniunly scared of dogs and shy away as you get closer. The dog will pick up on this as well.

This is what I think is going on in my house anyway but it is not as serious as what you describe. Also who is the boss in your relationship with the dog? Does he walk out in front or beside you?
 

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Thanks for your replies.

Merc is a "companion" dog and not for hunting so I never encouraged (or particularly discouraged) any pointing/ chasing behaviour where things like rabbits were concerned but perhaps I should have. Mostly though he will come back from things like birds or rabbits, and even playing with other dogs, quite easily but not so much things he percieves as a threat.

As for walking next to me and who is boss, again mostly he is next to me looking up at me to check in. But the days I am more likely to have problems he has his nose in the air or is pulling out in front and his head is obviously everywhere but with his human. I do think a lot of his behaviour is in reaction to me and I am trying to relax when I see potentially scary things. I know as soon as I call him with that sound of "you must come here right now" in my voice he will run in the opposite direction. And yes we had someone, when he was about 5 months old, scream in terror when he sniffed their ankles because they are scared of dogs. I did wonder afterwards why they were walking in a designated dog exercise area....

I will keep on with the training (mine and his). He is too good a dog to give up on. And after reading all the other posts, in many ways he is just the same as any other slightly nutty and overly energetic V :)
 

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Penny (neutered female) is about 20 months and has recently been acting up a lot as well. Not so much outside with people as inside with us. Although there can be too much barking in the backyard as people walk by. We had a pretty rough patch with adolescence for a few months but she is past that. We've had a lot going on with our family recently so I wonder is she senses our stress, or if it is spring fever. We're in Chicago and just came out of a several week deep freeze. Now that I think about it, I feel like acting out, too.
 

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I had a chasing joggers/cyclists problem with my dog years ago, but she wasn't a V, she was a Pharaoh Hound, which is a sight hound - so I was fighting natural instinct!

Needless to say that no matter how well I trained her (she actually competed in obedience trials), when she was off lead and saw something to chase there was no getting her attention back. After a few years of trying everything, what worked in the end was a remote collar that sprayed citronella. It's much like the bark collars, but you can control it yourself. It basically just taught her that just because she was off lead, didn't mean she could choose not to listen.

It worked a treat - she would dash off after someone and i would say "NO" and spray. She would slam on the brakes, turn straight back and perform a perfect recall. I only used it a few times and that was all I needed.

Only thing that was different, was that she was never aggressive, she just wanted to chase for the 'game'. I'm not sure if you could use this type of collar with an aggressive dog because it might make them associate the spray with the people they already don't like and that could make them more aggressive?? ???
 

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My V is probably 90% companion dog (actually my wife thinks she is wife number 2) as well. I don't hunt as often as I would like due to family/business commitments. However the hunting training is really good obedience training as well.

Recall is very important and I would work on that. If the dog thinks it is OK to chase a rabbit, then it is OK to chase a swan (and they are bird dogs). I have personally watched someone repeatedly call their dog while it chased down a swan at a public beach and broke its neck. Very embarrasing for the dog owner and not a good look for the reputation of dog owners in general. If you let the dog chase then you must be able to recall it. Otherwise don't let it chase.

E-collars can be affective but the dog must know the command first ie. it needs to know why it is getting the reprimand. I would put as much effort as possible into recall training before using a collar. And then you need to be careful how you use it. Try all sorts of variation on recall. Get the dog to go to a freind and recall it halfway there. Throw out food or a toy. Let it play with another dog in your yard etc. You may need to tie a 6m lead onto its collar at first so you can tug it when you say the command. Practice and practice. Do it for a few minutes morning and night when you walk it. This is condition training. It takes time. Always say COME in a friendly voice and reward the dog with a pat when it comes back. Returning must ALWAYS be a pleasurable experience no matter what the dog has done. They have really good memories.

As for the walking I was just wondering if the dog thought he was in charge. I have to work hard to keep my dog on HEEL. But I don't keep her there for long periods. More so just on the walk to the park or if there are lots of people on the same track. Then I set her loose in a safe place and let her run her heart out!

Keep at it. The more effort you put into the training the better dog you will have. The other thing I would say is everyone has different expectations on what they want from their dog. So if you don't want the dog to chase then you need to put a lot of time into this. If you want your dog to zig zag between poles on an obedience course then then same applies.
 

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More on this. I have just come back from 10 days holiday. This morning before coming home I went out with a neighbour who had just arrived with his 2 year old Weimaraner. What a gorgeous dog. He weighed in at 32kg. Exactly the same build as my V but bigger. He was owned by a couple who have no kids (yet). He is mainly a pet. He was questioning me about RECALL when both our dogs ran over to a lady 50m away walking by with her handbag dog. I was able to recall my dog before she got there. The W took about 1 min to come back and not until he had had a good sniff.

The W owner wanted to know how to do it. Practice, practice...(and I didn't use an E-collar).

Also when walking home my V walked at my side at HEEL with no lead. The W was on a Halti lead and walking out in front. Initially when my V was younger and headstrong I was looking at getting a Halti lead so she wouldn't pull when the kids walked her. The reason I didn't was because it looked to me for it to work the dog had to walk out in front. Then when it pulled on the lead, it would pull its head around. I wanted the dog to walk beside me until we got to where we were going and then let it run free.

Anyone else use a Halti lead? I have just finished reading an article about a trainer using a Delmar Smith Wonder Lead for heel work. Wish I had seen one of these 12 months ago.
 

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I agree with MadAboutV. The basic hunting commands of Come, Whoa, and Heel are good for any dog's general obedience. Moreover, hunting requires drilling these commands until they are 100%. So even if you don't plan on hunting the dog there is a lot of benefit to be derived.

While, MadAboutV stressed Come and Heel, I think a solid Whoa (where the dog stops on a dime and stands still) is of a great versatility of uses since it stops the dog from chasing and prevents further aggravation/endangerment if the hazard is in between you and the dog (ie Person/Animal/Busy Street). Plus if the dog with Whoa, you can always walk to it, even if it won't recall...

I really liked the book "Point!" by James Spencer. Anyone else have any hunting training books they recommend? I have heard some good things about Joan Bailey, but haven't gotten my paws on any of her books.

T
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm glad to hear you all think we just need to train more. I would have been worried if anyone had said "oh well that's a vizsla you'll just have to learn to live with him chasing things". I hadn't thought of training "whoa" - sounds like a good one to add to the list.

I tried a halti for a little while but i couldn't find one that fitted properly - they all rubbed up near his eye which meant Merc spent all his time trying to rub his face on my knee.

And no madaboutvizslas I don't think you sounded full of yourself - it's great when hard work pays off. Even I've had a couple of moments when Merc has something well that I didn't expect and i could just about have kissed him.
 

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I'm also going to try the training you suggest MadaboutVs. Graeme is still only a pup and he thinks every person and dog he sees wants to play. He seems to think joggers and cyclists are great - maybe they're more challenging because they're going faster?
The most worrying for me is when he spots a child. I've been told it's the prey instinct but he will run over and and jump on them if he gets his way. I'm looking forward to the day when I don't have to suddenly put him on the lead as soon as a kid gets in within cooey.
I'll try the practice in getting him to stop and come back with friends and friend's dogs. Fingers crossed.
 
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